America and the History of Pumpkin Beer

Pumpkin Patch

Little did I know, fall’s favorite pumpkin beers have a history in America, long before our current craft beer renaissance. In fact, in a book published in 1801 by Samuel Stearns, pumpkin beer is listed right after ‘porter’ and ‘ale.’

Pumpkin beer has a history even longer than the 19th century, however. While most Europeans had never even seen a pumpkin, both pumpkins and brown sugar were easily accessible in early uncolonized America, while proper malt was not. Colonists brewed pumpkin beer for health and sustenance, replacing malt entirely with pumpkin meat. Even America’s first folk song, written around 1643, sings of pumpkin beer:

Instead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies;
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon;
If it was not for pumpkins we should be undone
… Hey down, down, hey down derry down….
If barley be wanting to make into malt
We must be contented and think it no fault
For we can make liquor, to sweeten our lips,
Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips.

Join me in celebrating American history with your favorite pumpkin beer today. Cheers!


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